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'This is why the American people have thrown you out of power:' Rep. Steve Buyer

California Democrat House speaker Nancy PelosiIn case anyone thought the ongoing lame duck session of Congress would be absent political confrontations, here's Exhibit A for Not.

A little video clip courtesy of a feed from the national treasure C-SPAN from Monday's session of a nearly-deserted House of Representatives. (Scroll down for video after reading.)

Come January, the legislative chamber will be run by the new old Speaker John Boehner, presiding over the GOP majority bulked up by 63 new R's elected to Dem seats during Nov. 2's midterm elections.

Ohioan Boehner has promised a new openness in running the chamber where all financial legislation originates. We heard those kinds of promises two Januarys ago when Democrats took over D.C..

But for now the House is still run by Nancy Pelosi's depressed Democrats and her designees.

Monday, the presiding speaker was California's Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson.

When Indiana Republican Rep. Steve Buyer sought recognition to speak for....

...five minutes about some pending veterans legislation, she said no. He revised his request to one minute.

Looking confused and taking verbal directions from someone off-camera, Richardson again denied the request.

Buyer persisted, growing outraged that one sitting representative was highhandedly refusing to recognize another, even for one minute. "This is why," Buyer declared, "the American people have thrown you out of power."

Richardson confers again with someone unseen. This, not incidentally, is the kind of government coverage of the legislature that C-SPAN seeks to reform. The television cameras in the House are run strictly by the House, with focus on the person speaking and nothing else.

Thus there are, for instance, no reaction shots during debates, no full House panoramas showing the usually vacant chamber and, when a recess is called, coverage concludes. No shots of schmoozing like C-SPAN cameras so fruitfully collect on the campaign trail

C-SPAN, as we reported right here on Nov. 18, has formally asked Boehner in the interests of openness to allow the cable channel's independent cameras in for the new Congress. Any independent video coverage Monday, for instance, would have pulled back to reveal the unelected person or persons guiding Richardson and could have shown a twin-shot of Buyer seeking to get the chair's attention while Richardson ignored him.

A C-SPAN spokesman said Monday no reply has yet been received from Boehner or his transition team.

After Buyer is finally permitted to speak on this video, there is a short gap before Richardson is told to call a recess. Keep watching the bottom of the screen then for an entertaining gesture of exasperation by Buyer, who leaves his seat to walk by where he knows the main House camera is pointing.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images (Pelosi, file).

Comments () | Archives (8)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I hope the old guard on both sides have been paying attention. The Congress is there to serve and represent us, not themselves.

@Bob Bishop:Right on the money.
Shocking video. Thanks, Mr Malcolm, for the extra info on C-SPAN and the fact that presiding Speaker Richardson's rude behavior was being choreographed. Were those unelected directors democratic "staffers" or just House staffers more familiar with Rules of Order than Rep. Richardson? Perhaps the later, since Rep. Buyer finally got his chance to voice his opposition to the funky, shady way House business is being handled. But the recess hints at the former. Love Buyer's exasperated theatre at the end. Thanks for pointing it out and for shining a light on all the shenanigans. TotT is one of my favorite daily *must reads*.

I used to vote for Democrats, stupid me. Never Again! Do you hear me, Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson? You are all petty tryants!

This was a disgraceful abuse of power by Laura Richardson, and a completely transparent display of a malicious hijacking of the position Richardson holds by who ever was giving her commands to her right. This is precisely the kind of misconduct that should result in her immediate removal from office. Utterly disgraceful.

If you think that this was abuse of power, just wait until the GOP takes over. They will show you how to abuse power.

I love hearing a Republican complain about "abuse of the process". This is the party threatening to shut down the government if Bush's tax cuts for the rich aren't extended! That's not abuse of process?

Please. There's obviously more going on here than meets the eye. This video is typical process maneuverings both sides engage in. Without the backstory of the bill and how its moved through the legislature, we can't know what any of it really means. But rest assured, in the annals of Congress, there is no shortage of Republicans denying the floor to Dems...and vice-versa.

The most interesting thing here is how lost Ms Richardson looks. You almost feel bad for her. BUt Buyer's outrage is 100% phony; he knows exactly why he's being blocked, even if we don't.

By the way, if you think it's easy to learn to chair Congress, you obviously don't have much experience with that process.

Taking a close look at the woman advising Richardson,I recognized that
awfull big mouth from CNBC ,the abominable Rachel Maddow.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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